Isle of Sodor team lands first sponsor – Championship club’s U10’s love them their Motorhead

Congrats to Isle of Sodor Championship’s Maithwaite FC!     They’re the first team to ever receive celebrity sponsorship or support.   Sort of.

Image result for busted whistle It’s actually their U10’s   — who’ve gone by “Wonky Whistles Youth FC” — that got the goods.   Their jerseys were pathetic, but their coach used some straaaaange inspiration to improve things for the little kickers.

See, Wonky Whistles coach Brile Nickels Jr. is a big Duran Duran fan.  And he recently learned the band was asked by newly re-formed Hungarian sixth-tier club Budapesti AK if they could use “My Own Way” as a theme song.  The band said yes, asked for some swag in return and were obliged!    Nickels was inspired to flip that script and try making use of his own familial rock ‘n’ roll connection to improve his kids’ kits.

Nickels’ uncle Keithley grew up with famed Motorhead roadie Steve Luna.  He invited Luna to vacation to Maithwaite, catch up, huff some glue and such.   Nickels knew the uniform shirts the kids’ moms designed were utter  crap, lamely depicting actual broken whistles, in addition to the a sponsoring local lab’s business logo (see above).   He had Luna see a match, and the old bass tech declared the shirts “absolute gobshite” and immediately set about paying for new ones.

So Luna got the kids these brand spanking new unis.

Image result for Lincolnshire Greenbank Motorhead soccer jerseys

Congrats again, Wonky Whistles.   Well, now it’s “Blind Drunks” and “Hell Drivers” to which the kids answer.  See, Luna gave them an official song, too.  “(We Are) The Road Crew”.   Lucky tots!

Another town another place,
Another girl, another face,
Another truce, another race,
I'm eating junk, feeling bad,
Another night, I'm going mad,
My woman's leaving, I feel sad,
But I just love the life I lead,
Another beer is what I need,
Another gig my ears bleed,
We are the road crew
Another town I've left behind,
Another drink completely blind,
Another hotel I can't find,
Another backstage pass for you,
Another tube of super glue,
Another border to get through,
I'm driving like a maniac,
Driving my way to hell and back,
Another room a case to pack,
We are the road crew
Another hotel we can burn,
Another screw, another turn,
Another Europe map to learn,
Another truck stop on the way,
Another game I learn to play,
Another word I learn to say,
Another bloody customs post,
Another fucking foreign coast,
Another set of scars to boast,
We are the road crew

 

Isle of Sodor Premier League – matchday 30 (3/23-24) – On Sat., #3 tries to stay in the race; Ffarquhar tries to stay up

Matchday 30 (Sat., 3/23) Preview    (Sunday preview to follow tomorrow)

#20  Arlesburgh Utd.    vs.     #5    Kirk Ronan
#19  Tidmouth City       vs.     T7   Junction & Sheds
#16   Brendam Utd.        vs.    #12   Lakeside
#10   Suddery                    vs.     #9   Glennock

Plus the Saturday Feature Match:  #3 Peel Godred hosts #17 Ffarquhar

Deja vu all over again!   They played two weeks ago and face off again today.  Ffarquhar took the W at home, 5-3.   But this week we get to learn a little more about a new host town.

Image result for PGFC crestWelcome to “Peel”, at is referred more often than not, locally.   The small town lies in the north central part of Sodor.   It’s more or less the northern terminus for the train system that’s been fictionalized in the “Thomas” stuff.

It’s not a town of particular note, though truly a town in Sudric terms, as opposed to a village.  Aluminum factory.  Small lake nearby.   But there are lots of villages close at hand, and the folks there have chosen to feed their best players into PGFC, instead of fielding their own, smaller possible Championship clubs.

Peel sit just four points behind league-leading Dryaw FC.  While not defensive aggressively (almost no club on Sodor is), Peel are an interesting case.  They tend to not throw everyone forward, all the time, like so many here do.  Instead, they actually play formations more common in soccer the world over, especially preferring the 5-2-2-1, then trying to score on counters.

The last month, they’re 2-1-1.  Staying afloat is fine, but they can’t afford to drop any points hosting a team fighting the Relegation riptide, not at home, not if they are going to win the league.

Image result for FFFC football crestLast week’s victory over PG, coupled with Ulfstead‘s matchday 29 loss, put the Double F back above the Relegation line by a point.  It was their first win in a month, a stretch that included a loss to Ulfstead.  Since Ulfstead faces their own stern road test today (at Wellsworth), it wouldn’t be surprising to see this turn into a defensive affair.  A draw should be enough to keep FF out of the Drop Zone for at least one more week.

Noob calls it:        4-3 Peel Godred           If Ffarquhar don’t play there usual game (slightly more offensively-oriented than average), PG will win.   They’re a team that takes advantage of others’ mistakes and FF will make some if they stray from their usual style.

Isle of Sodor Premier League – matchday 28 (3/2-3) – Title contenders down to three

Matchday 28 (3/2-3) in Review

Sunday Feature Match:         ONE team got a road win today…and the magic ride keeps goin’!

Related imageAnd then there were three, realistically.   #5 Crovan’s Gate‘s loss leaves then ten points behind the league leaders.  And today’s Feature Match result saw #1 Dryaw FC obliterate #4 Kirk Ronan 3-10!  At nine points back with just nine matches to go, it’s safe to call the Churchmen cooked.

Winger Christopher Wilbertson was Dryaw‘s star, as he scored a gentleman’s hat trick (a goal and two assists) in each half.  After the match, Wilbertson, had this to say to Noob:

"We're neither tall nor fast.   We have to play intelligently.  Our game plan was to go for just those 50-50 balls we had an 80% chance of getting."

Dryaw is famous as a quiet vacation village for intellectuals, particularly authors.   Noob knows no one else could’ve spoken or written so…eloquently about the team’s game strategy.   (Ok, maybe Ian Darke  )

 

Sounds about  right for Wilbertson, who also nearly broke his fool neck trying to recreate the famous “Klinsmann dive”.

Sun., 3/3
#8      Glennock                7   vs.    5     T12     Vicarstown
#20   Arlesburgh Utd.   5   vs.    3     T12     Marron
#15    Lakeside                 2   vs.     1    #10      Suddery
#5      Crovan’s Gate      4   vs.     5     #9      Junction & Sheds
#4      Kirk Ronan            3   vs.     10   #1       Dryaw

Continue down for Saturday’s results and feature match recap.  Click [here]  for the updated league table.

Saturday Feature Match:     A change in the Relegation Zone!

Image result for Norramby crestIt’s hard to call it a true upset, but Noob predicted a draw.  Instead, Ulfstead have climbed above the Cutline with a resounding victory!   A 4-4 halftime score was inline with expectations, but Ffarquhar looked fatigued again just minutes into the second half.

Image result for FFFC football crestSo, Ffarquhar drop to 18th, two points behind today’s victors.  Ulfstead is up to 17th, next have struggling Brendam United in their sights in the table.

On the table’s top, Peel Godred eked out a low-scoring win, but that’s good enough to climb back into 2nd place!   How?  Because #2 Knapford Town went to Castle Rolf and got busted in the mouth.   Peel now sit just a point behind Dryaw, who have their hands full tomorrow as they visit #4 Kirk Ronan.

Here are the day’s full results.  The Page with the Table will be updated following tomorrow’s matches.

Sat., 3/2
#3     Peel Godred         2    vs.     0        #16    Brendam Utd.
#11    Castle Rolf          13    vs.    6          #2     Knapford Town
#7     Wellsworth          5    vs.    4          #6      E.C.D.
#19   Tidmouth City    6    vs.    1          #14    Brendam Harbor
#18    Ulfstead                8    vs.    4         #17     Ffarquhar

Isle of Sodor Premier League – matchday 28 (Sat., 3/2) preview – Who stays up, who goes down

Sat., 3/2
#3    Peel Godred         vs.     #16   Brendam Utd.
#11   Castle Rolf           vs.     #2     Knapford Town
#7    Wellsworth          vs.     #6     E.C.D.
#19  Tidmouth City    vs.    #14   Brendam Harbor
#18   Ulfstead                vs.    #17   Ffarquhar

Saturday Feature Match:   A drop zone battle royal!

Wellsworth – E.C.D. has the best chance today to be a truly quality match.    But the title race is really down to five teams now, and these two are on the outside looking in.  So, today’s most important match is about Premier League survival.

Image result for Norramby crestHello from Ulfstead!  Here, just a month ago the local team’s Relegation fate appeared sealed.  But three wins against just one loss in February has them just out of safety, a point behind their closest geographic rivals today.

All season, their issue has been consistency,  They can score and defend well enough, but rarely managed both in the same match all winter.  Other than giving up a whopping 14 goals in their road loss to Marron, they’ve played better all-around ball of late.

A note about Ulfstead F.C. “Earls” –   Ulfstead is the town name here in west-central Sodor.  It is the home of the Isle’s Earls (the royal family), the Norramby’s.   But Norramby the town is on the east central coast.  They have their own team in the second-tier Championship (and are doing quite well!.

Image result for FFFC football crestThe road team today only had to travel a handful of miles east.  It will be a shame if Ffarquhar doesn’t survive the Isle’s first-ever Premier season.  It’s one of the larger towns on the isle, but only has the one FA club.  It’s also the one town people outside the country can name, if any —  being the home of Thomas of the fictional children’s tv show.

But this team’s season has followed it’s FA Cup performance from the summer.  They play everyone close, but play up and down to the level of their competition.  And they far from always finish off matches strong.  Still, a 2-1-1 February mark shows they’re learning and has kept them above the Cutline.

Fun FactFfarquhar are known as “the Anophas”, though the S is dropped as often as not.  The nearby Ffarquhar Quarry was known as Anopha Quarry, and so that name has been adopted by the club.  This, despite not a bloody soul in the town having the slightest clue what “Anopha” referred to or meant originally.

Match Prediction:   Noob thinks the battle to stay afloat in the Premier will go right down to the end of the season.  The teams will play true their forms of late and have a match of quality play.  4-4 or 5-5.

Arlesburgh United target sacked Leicester FC coach Claude Puel

Arlesburgh, Isle of Sodor – February 26, 2019

Image result for Arlesburgh United crestBefore the rumor mill starts swirling over his next job possibilities, Isle of Sodor Premier League club Arlesburgh United are taking their shot at a big target – Claude Puel.

Image result for funny Claude Puel

“I’m a coaching target thihhhs bihhhg.”

Puel was sacked as manager on Feb. 24 by Leicester FC.   That same day, 96 year old Arlesburgh United coach Pete Mylchreest his retirement.  Coincidence?  (Almost certainly.  But what the hell.)

So how does a club from somewhere like Sodor go after a manager with a legitimate big league pedigree–  Lille, Lyon, Nice, Southampton, Sunderland, Leicester City…Arlesburgh?   You point out the pros and let the chips fall where they may.  With Noob’s help.

  • Claude, you’ve never been able to hang onto elite talent anywhere you’ve coached.  No problem in Arlesburgh!  The Pirates are in last here in the IoS PL’s inaugural season.  No talent to be found here, even by Sudric standards.  Image result for senior citizens soccer team
  • Arlesburgh are certainly getting demoted to the IoS Championship.   A year to get your feet under you in a new country should sound relaxing.
  • Then you get to be the hero probably getting the Promoted back to Premier!   Trust Noob.  Village teams like Cabalnoo and others that even devotees of “Thomas the Tank Engine” would be hard-pressed to find on a map won’t present a manager of your stature any problem.
  • You don’t like to give much to the press.  Noob’s the exclusive coverage guy here!   And I’ll leave you alone.   I’m more of a Sodor east coast kind of fellow.  Arlesburgh is too close to the Isle of Mann for me  The Manx smell awful and can’t be trusted.

Image result for suspicious looking old people

 

These Manx children have poisoned lips, I promise.   Manx children murder old ladies all the time.

  • Arlesburgh is the oldest settlement on the Isle.  The folk residing here run really old.   And the ones who aren’t old dress up as such for matches (supporters group is ‘The Ancients’).   At 57 years old, you’ll feel right at home, and they’ll likely find you a breath of fresh air.
  • Do you really want to get stuck in England’s Championship?  You’re not getting another Premier job right away, if ever.  Besides, the whole Brexit thing sounds nasty.
  • Would you really want to return to France?   Taking a non-PSG job in that farmer’s league is worse than England’s Championship.  Just say no. Image result for england vs france funny

 

 

But coach in Sodor.   You don’t want to wait up to a year and end up with the Philadelphia Union.   *shudders*

 

  • Think of this as semi-retirement.  Mostly retirement, less even “semi-“.  Everyone dies somewhere.
  • There’s a water wheel that’s cool to look at, and it’s bigger than “the world’s biggest” over in Laxey, Isle of Man, whatever they claim.   Again, you can’t trust those Manx louts.  Not ever.
  • The public transit is amazing, featuring state-of-the-art talking trains.  OK, no talking trains.  That’s the silly, fun tv show.  But it’s based on the real Isle, and the train system really is quite good.

When reached for a comment, Puel said through his representative: “Where?  That’s….unbelievable.”   So, um, you’re coming then?

Sodor Championship match postponed after cows let loose in support of Sardinian milk protest

Feburary 9 -Toryreck, Sodor

The Championship League match between Toryreck and Cabalnoo slated for Sunday, Feb. 10 has been postponed until Monday night (6:45 PM local time).

This rescheduling is, of course, contingent upon Farmer Skillicorn being willing to rustle up his rampaging dairy cows.  Again.

Skillicorn operates the biggest dairy on the Isle.  Whenever there’s a milk protest somewhere in the world, he shows solidarity by letting his massive herd of cows loose on the local village.  Players and fans alike stay indoors for safety, praying to whatever god they believe in.  So what was the catalyst this time?

Image result for angry dairy farmer

 

“I’m John Skillicorn, and I approve of this message of bovine terror.”

 

Over in Italy, Sardinian dairy farmers surrounded Cagliari FC’s training facility today.  Most players locked themselves inside.  The prevailing thought is the farmers just wanted Cagliari to show their support by boycotting their Sunday match with AC Milan.  Milk prices in Italy had plummeted in recent days.

[Click here for the “Sports Illustrated” coverage of the Serie A story.]

Two players participated in kicking over milk barrels.  The team’s flight to Milan was delayed, but that match will go on as scheduled tomorrow.

As for Toryreck vs. Cabalnoo — it’s on for Monday.  Image result for cows on soccer field

That’s provided Skillicorn doesn’t just move the cows over onto the local pitch.  Again.

 

’10 to Track’ returns — Relegation Monday! plus CONCACAF and other goodness

After a semi-farewell and long holiday break, Noob returns!     Twitter: @SoccernoobUSA

The plan remains to feature exclusive Isle of Sodor Premier League coverage here.  Soon!  I’m still wintering on Sodor, putting things together, even as the season is half-finished.   To get a feel, check out this site’s Page for last summer’s inaugural Isle of Sodor FA Cup.

But I’ve missed doing the near-daily Tracks, previewing the most important matches from the U.S., all CONCACAF, Premier League, continental Europe, and the world!

So for now, I’m bringing back Relegation Monday and Globetrotting Friday – the most unique content I provided.   So enjoy!   Today, several matches feature teams about to be Relegated, from “important” leagues to those far-flung.  Then there’s a few matches of happier  import.    Dig in.

1. Celta Vigo vs. Athletic Club Bilbao – Spain:  La Liga
  • UEFA League Rank:     #1
  • Table positions:            #14, #18 (of 20)
  • Clubs relegated:             3
  • Time of season:             middle

Noob’s return to at least Tracking on “Relegation Mondays” starts with a realistic upset chance! Athletic have only lost one of their last six matches. I’m not saying they’re storming the league and going to make a move on a midtable position, but only allowing one goal in their last four matches is a big step forward.

Celta Vigo, at home, should be favored. Their goal differential even indicates they may be worthy of a higher table slot. But they’ve not scored in two matches. Noob senses this is a bad matchup for them.

Fun Fact:    Bilbao are The Lions.  Their stadium was built near a church which was named for Saint Mammes, a Christian saint thrown to the lions.  He pacified them.  

So they named themselves after tamed animals?   Never mind from before.  You’re getting Relegated.

RESULT:   Athletic   1-2        The Lions climb to 17th place, above the Drop Zone for now

B. Moreirense vs. Aves – Portugal Primeira Liga
  • UEFA league rank:        #7
  • Table positions:             #7, #17 (of 18)
  • Clubs relegated:             3
  • Time of season:              middle

Aves have the worst defense in the league, and it’s not particularly close. That said, they’ve only allowed one goal in each of their last to matches, against excellent competition. They didn’t win either, though, and haven’t done so since late November.

Moreirense seem to be overcoming a dreadful start to their season when it comes to goal-scoring. They’ve won three of four matches running and scored multiple times in all of them.

RESULT:   Moreirense   1-0

Image result for letter B pumped up

 

 

The Quest for Number B to displace worn out Number 2 in lists is back on!

Clearly, the people want their Number B.

3. Ermis Aradippou vs. Enosis Paralimni – Cyprus First Division
  • UEFA League Rank:         #18
  • Table positions:                last, second-to-last
  • # of Clubs Relegated:      1
  • Time of Season:                 middle

One of Noob’s first ever Twitter (@SoccernoobUSA) followers is a Cypriot mother of two First Division players. This league will always have a little piece of my heart. Thankfully for Mom, her boys play for far better clubs than these sad sacks!

Aradippou have earned points in just three matches all season so far. They won their last match, but that was in their FA Cup. Against a Second Division club that is considered a “refugee team”. That haven’t played in their home city since the Turkish Invasion of 1974. Aradippou haven’t beaten a league foe since November.

Paralimni have earned draws in their last two league matches, lead Aradippou by five points in the table. Road wins may be tough to come by, but Noob wouldn’t be able to call this in upset even so. Both teams are just so lousy.

RESULT:   0-0          That seems more than fitting

4. Mont Bleu vs. Muungano – DR Congo First Division
  • CAF league rank:        #3
  • Table positions:         #12, last place of 16
  • Clubs Relegated:         3
  • Time of season:           uncertain

Last season, the Linafoot may only have been about 14 matches. This season, some clubs have already reached 15. The format also seems to have changed from three league divisions to one.

So what does Noob know? That Muungano have won just once and drawn not at all in their 11 outings. This is one of three teams that play far worse defense than everyone else. None of them look likely to climb out of the Drop Zone no matter when the season ends.

Mont Bleu are a bit better on both sides of the ball, though not nearly good enough threaten climbing to midtable.

RESULT:      ppd

Image result for OC Muungano

5. Ndanda vs. Ruvu Shooting – Tanzania Premier
  • CAF league rank:        #24
  • Table positions:         #17, #16 (of 20)
  • Clubs Relegated:         4
  • Time of season:           middle

Ndanda may be on the edge of daylight, but their goal differential is the worst in the league. If they had a strength, maybe they could climb. But they’re bottom-three in both O and D.

Still, a win today would move them above the Cutline (for the moment). Ruvu score a lot more, but sport the league’s worst defense for it. If Ndanda want to prove Noob wrong, this is a home must-win.

Fun Fact:  Ndanda’s Nangwanda Sijaona Stadium has a capacity of 15,000.

RESULT:   Ruvu   0-1

6. Muslim FC vs. Karachi Port Trust – Pakistan Premier
  • AFC league rank:       #46
  • Table positions:         #11, #13 (of either 14, 15 or 16)
  • Clubs relegated:         2, 3 or 4
  • Time of season:          very late

The number of league teams is higher now than when it last seemed to have played, in 2014-15. Assuming they’re still playing a double round robin, this season is on the verge of finishing. It started with either 15 or 16 teams. One or two of them aren’t playing for financial reasons. Bottom line is, just 14 appear to be actually playing and two of those will be Relegated.

And so, welcome to the worst-ranked league in Asia! Hey, they’re playing. Love football? Want to see it develop, improve everywhere. Noob’s got your back, Pak.

KPT and one other team are vying to stay in the country’s top flite. Baloch Nushki are playing, but have long since been mathematically cooked. And if it weren’t for Baloch Nushki, KPT would have the worst defense in the league.

Muslim are not much higher, yet appear safe in their position. They play small-ball, neither scoring nor conceding many goals at all. KPT won’t get one on them today, and they will go down a league.

RESULT:   Muslim   2-0

KPT FC Logo

 

 

We hardly knew ye

7. Rayo Majadahonda vs. Las Palmas – Spain’s Segunda Division
  • UEFA league rank:         n/a – second-tier league
  • Table positions:             #19, #11 (of 22)
  • Clubs relegated:             4
  • Time of season:              middle

Majadahonda are in a three-way tie for 18th through 20th in points in the table. But they’re one of the four worst in goal differential, simply must score more if they want to stay afloat. Try for at least a goal per game, fellas. It’ll work wonders.

Statistically, Las Palmas are perfectly average in every way. Yet strangely, they haven’t won a match since October, mostly achieving draws. High or low-scoring, doesn’t matter. They can’t seal the deal. Look for a 0-0 draw today, and contain your excitement, Noobites 😛

Fun Fact:   This is the highest Majadahonda have ever been in the Spanish football pyramid, having just been promoted this year.

RESULT:   0-0

Non-Relegation Matches of Treeemendous Consequence!

OK, might’ve oversold that.

8. Lille vs. Sochaux – Coupe de France

The French FA Cup is in it’s Round of 64. This is the only match for the event today. Lille is the current #B team in Ligue 1, while Sochaux are barely above the Relegation Line in Ligue 2. The only reason this match might not be a blowout for the home side is that Noob’s read this FA Cup is considered by clubs even less important than other top European leagues’ clubs consider theirs, which is so-so at most.

Here’s the link for the event. Hopefully your technology translates it for you readily.

RESULT:   Lille   1-0

9. Waterhouse vs. Cavalier – Jamaica Premier
  • CONCACAF league rank:        don’t think they do them; #B  Caribbean maybe
  • Table positions:                       #B, #3
  • Stakes:                                          top 6- league playoffs bracket, top 2 get byes
  • more Stakes                               Top two will have option to play Caribbean Club                                                           Championship.
  • Time of season:                        2/3 through regular season

#1 Portmore and Waterhouse have the offense. Cavalier boasts the top D. Unfortunately for them, Waterhouse is almost as good in that regard. The home team today is probably the most talented in the league.

Even given the relative table positions, a Cavalier win should be considered an upset. But given that they were just promoted to top flite this season, they’re performing incredibly.

RESULT:   Cavalier   0-1         So be it – upset!     These two are now tied in the table on points.  Cavalier is still in 3rd on GD.

10. UNDEBA (Banda Abou) vs. Scherpenheuvel – Curacao Sekshon Paga
  • CONCACAF league rank:                gotta think it wouldn’t be high
  • Table positions:                               #3, #1
  • Stakes:                                                 top six make the playoff subdivision
  • more Stakes                                      at least one club will have option to play in                                                                      new second-tier 2020 Caribbean Club Shield
  • Time of season:                                very early

Welcome to the former Netherlands Antilles! The top at some point the top six will be moved into their own Championship Subdivision. It’s unclear to me if at some point the top four from that will have their own bracketed playoff not. But the season is just a few matches in, so there’s all kinds of time to figure it out.

Scherpenheuvel are undefeated, outscoring opponents 12-1 to date. Banda Abou’s GD is 18-9. Can’t think their lack of defense will serve them well over a full season, but that 3+ goals per game average sure is shiny.

RESULT:   1-1

Image result for stoba goat papaya

 

 

Be inspired to find or make some stoba, a traditional stew from these parts.

And be bold!   Do the goat with the papaya.

’10 to Track’ Saturday (11/17) soccer matches – UEFA Nations League leads the way once again

This site serves two purposes, or such is Noob’s intent.   We learn about the leagues and tournaments of the world through the lens of a newish American fan.  And it’s all presented with pretty oddball humor oft times, something for fans Noobite and veteran alike (hopefully).

Weekends, though, the zaniness gets comparatively left by the wayside.  Even during this, the European International Break – which in turn affects most of the world – Saturday and Sunday will offer the best matches of the week.

So let’s dig in and see what goodies the day has to offer.

1. Italy vs. Portugal – UEFA Nations League

Here’s a direct link to understand the basics of what this tournament is: http://www.soccernoob.com/2018/01/01/uefa-nations-league-explainer/

Portugal are in the driver’s seat to win the Group and make the Playoffs. They already lead Italy by two in the table and still have a match to play after this. For Italy, this is fourth and final Group Stage match.

Italy must have a win today and than likely are forced to root for Poland to beat Portugal in the final match for those two. If Italy win by more than two today, than a Poland-Portugal draw would suffice. If Italy can at least get a draw today, they will have avoided any possibility of being Relegated to the League B for the next incarnation of this tournament in 2020-21.

Italy have dropped to #19 in the FIFA rankings and failed to even qualify for the last 2018 World Cup. In getting an 0-1 win over Poland in this tournament, they had their first win of any kind since March, a streak of six matches. Just like our U.S. men’s national team, they’re trending towards younger players in a reset, and it’s showing.

Portugal made it all the way to the World Cup quarterfinals, are ranked #7 in the world. They beat the Italians 1-0 in their first meeting of this event and have one three straight matches. (2:45 PM EST, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   0-0

B. Serbia vs. Montenegro – UEFA Nations League

This one is in League C, yet that means there’s more at stake, in a way. Those League A teams are all likely to qualify for the 2020 European Championships through a variety of channels. Not so necessarily with teams down here. Each League’s winner automatically qualifies for the Euros, and this may be the only realistic shot for some teams.

Both these teams have played four of their six matches. League C groups have four teams each, unlike the three-team pods in League A, so their double round-robin is longer. Serbia are a point clear of Montenegro and two ahead of Romania.

The teams are ranked #35 and #39, respectively. Given that Serbia won the first match between them on the road 0-2, it’s hard not to see them as the favorite today.

RESULT:   Serbia   2-1

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The Number B brings unmitigated joy!

No Number Two ever prompted that degree of delight.

3. Palestino vs. Audax Italiano – Copa Chile

It’s the second leg of the Final! And the stakes are high. The winners qualify for the next Copa Libertadores (South American Champions League). Neither of these teams was anywhere near the top of the country’s Premier League standings, so this has been there only possible path.

In the first leg, Palestino scored the only goal at 90 +3′. Now they have the chance to take care of business at home for the title. But they’re particularly challenged on defense typically, so don’t look for them to be able to take the air out of the ball and hold on for a 0-0 draw for the match.

RESULT:   Palestino   3-2        Victors!    Congrats on Copa Libertadores invite

4. UPNFM vs. Platense – Honduras National League

Honduras’ football season is divided into separate Apertura and Clausura halves. The Apertura regular season is completed and the Playoffs have begun. The top six make these Playoffs, with the top two seeds getting byes.

These two enter as the #3 and #6 seeds. UPNFM earned a 1-1 draw in the first match of this two-legged quarterfinal tie. They’ll likely look to push the pace at home, which is going to be very hard on the visitors. Platense didn’t score much all regular season. Anything but an 0-1 win for Platense is probably doom.

RESULT:   Platense   0-1      On to the Semifinals!

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5. Namibia vs. Guinea Bassau – Africa Cup of Nations qualification

The CAF’s premier national team competition is next year. This tournament is the play-in for that. Groups of four, each clubs plays a home-and-away round robine. Top two finishers in each get invites to the ACN.

South Africa hosting Nigeria might be the best game from this event today. But more is at stake in this one. These two are tied for 1st after four matches. More, the two teams below them in their Group each have a win and a draw. And Zambia is easily the highest-ranked team in the group, so one can expect them to make a push their last two matches.

Namibia’s been the best of this bunch on defense, G-B on offense. Midfield control may well decide this one. A low-scoring draw would serve both reasonably well, giving both a four-point lead over the others. That feels an unlikely conspiracy though. A win for either all but guarantee a top-two finish.

RESULT:    0-0       low-scoring draw it is

6. Barry Town vs. T.N.S – Wales Premier

It’s International Break in Europe, but that’s not keeping the Welsh top flite from gearing up. Surprising Barry Town are merely average on both sides of the ball, yet sit tied for 1st nearly halfway through the season. They even just pulled off a very solid road draw against co-leaders Connah’s Quay.

Perennial power The New Saints have been perhaps even more surprising, at least of late. They’ve dropped two matches in a row to midtable clubs and only got a draw against another just before that. The studly offense has simply vanished somehow.

This is one of Europe’s weaker leagues, so only the winner will get a berth in the next Champions League.

RESULT:   T.N.S.   0-2

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Steve Carrell is pleasantly surprised by Barry Town.  Perhaps.

7. ASE Matoury vs. US Concarneau – Coupe de France

The French FA Cup is just getting underway. Well, the Regional Leagues’ amateur clubs have been competing to get to this, the Seventh Round. This is where qualifying teams from France’s overseas territories enter in, as well as the pro teams from League Two.

The overseas territories’ entries are the reason Noob is choosing to start highlighting this competition so early on. Some of those territories are CONCACAF members, and I’m more focused than ever on our getting familiar with our neighbors.

Noob’s not certain how ASE Matoury qualified from French Guiana. They and US Matoury finished #B and #3 in 2017-18 Division d’Honneur and are playing the Coupe, but not winners Le Geldar.

US Concarneau play out of the third division Championnat National league, where they’re struggling on defense and sitting midtable. Noob doesn’t have any sense of how the leagues and clubs compare, so it will be fun to see how the overseas territorial clubs do.

RESULT:   Concarneau   2-3

8. Edinburgh City vs. Alloa Athletic – Scotland Challenge Cup

Teams from levels two through five of the Scottish football pyramid compete in this Knockout tournament. They also invite a handful of teams from other nearby countries.

This is a quarterfinal match. Hosts Edinburgh are from the fourth-tier Scottish League Two, for the moment. They’re winning it, would be promoted if they finish #1.

Alloa are struggling in the second division Championship league, having just been promoted themselves. Still, Noob would easily favor the visitors to win by a goal or two here on the road.

RESULT:   Edinburgh City   2-2  /  4-3   pk            Upset City!   E.C. climbs back from an 0-2 whole to take it in penalty kicks.

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9. Tolima vs. Santa Fe – Colombia Premier

The top eight make the Clausura (second half-season) here. This is the second leg of a quarterfinal two-legged tie between the #1 and #8 seeds. Tolima won the first match 2-1. Even on the road, Santa Fe still shouldn’t be counted out though. Statistically, these teams aren’t that far apart.

Colombia determines its entrants into Copa Libertadores by aggregate table, combining the Apertura and Clausura regular season records. That takes a tiny bit of the shine off things for these Playoffs, but but not much.

RESULT:   Santa Fe   0-1        But it’s Tolima who advance, 4-3 on penalty kicks

10. Hassania Agadir vs. Raja Casablanca – Morocco Botola Pro

We finish out Track in one of Africa’s best leagues. The most recent rankings as this sixth-best on the content, and their on pace to climb as high as #B by 2020.

This match features the current league leader against #10. Wait, 10? Yep. International Break means slimmer pickings, but this is an important match there, too. Raja Casablanca have only played half as many matches as many clubs there because of having been playing in the Champions League. They’ve not lost any of their four matches and are statistically the best team.

Agadir can really defend, are likely to be near the table’s top all season long, competing for one of the two CL berths for next year. But R.C. defend just as well and score a lot more.

RESULT:   0-0

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So long from Agadir!

 

not trick photography

goats climb Argan trees for the fruit in Agadir.

’10 to Track’ Globetrotting Friday soccer matches – Liga MX, Bundesliga, then off to see the world!

With the weekend imminent, league schedules run a little lighter on Fridays.  These are no Soccer Sabbaths though!

We find what league and Cup matches close to home are best, move on to Europe, South American, and then goodness knows where.  Usually, that’s anywhere in the world, far and wide!   Today, Noob keeps most of the focus on Europe.  We’ll be checking out some hot D2 action.

Matches with clubs you won’t see everywhere online, plus Fun Facts about them, their leagues and locales.  Takeoff time is now.  The stewardess is closing the first-class curtain.  Noobites are on the champagne side of it.

  1. Atlas vs. Toluca – Liga MX

Two Mexican top-tier matches today, and three of the involved teams are from the very bottom of the table.  Atlas are lowest of all, having yet to win a match this Apertura (first half-season).  That’ll happen when you’ve only managed to score once in all ten matches.

Toluca are the one good team in action there today, sitting pretty in 3rd place.  That makes this match a “Hiccup Watch”.   Even on the road, Toluca should cruise.  But will they rest usual starters?  Might they just prepare for this match as hard?  Hiccup.   (10:00 PM EST, Univision Deportes)

RESULT:   Atlas   2-0     The nightmare is over!

B.  Hertha Berlin vs. Bayern Munich – Bundesliga

Bayern just dropped their first points of the season to bottom-half Augsburg.  For the rawest of Noobites, that means it’s the first match they didn’t win.  They’ll win most of them.  They had several stars not play, gave up the equalizing goal at 87’.

Hertha Berlin are the more interesting story.  Part of it, anyway.   Once you get past the top two in the table, there’s a host of teams just behind that were nowhere close last season.  Top four will make Champions League, and a couple clubs not used to such rarefied airs may well make it!

As for today’s match, Noob thinks HB are good for a draw, especially if Bayern are resting players or dealing with injuries already.   (2:30 PM, FS1)

RESULT:   Hertha Berlin   2-0        A sloppy, overly-aggressive match from Bayern seems HB pull into a 1st-place tie with them

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I don’t mean to nitpick, Number B.

But it’s not “rarefied air” if you’re in outer space.

  1. Sheffield Wednesday vs. Leeds United – English Championship

England’s top league, noob as read, has been or is ranked as high as #13 in all Europe.  Add in the massive amounts money teams get for getting Promoted from here to Premier and it’s interesting two ways.

Looking to make that jump are current #1 Leeds.  They were deficient last year on defense in particular, but have made massive strikes, allowing fewer than a goal per game average.  Sheffield are in 10th, and so just average.  Noob counts them as a goal-underdog at home.

Fun Fact:   In the early 20th C., a player presented Sheffield Wednesday  with a monkey to be used as a mascot.   The idea did not catch on.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. Dundalk vs. UCD – FAI Cup (Ireland)

It’s a battle of league #1’s in this one-off Semifinal!   Dundalk lead the Premier while University College Dublin are tops in the First League.  They’re different league for a reason, no matter how strong the U. has been playing.  Dundalk by a pair.

Winners get the defending league and Cup champs Cork City, unless Bohemians defeat them.   Unlikely, but it’s a road match for the current trophy-keepers.

RESULT:   Dundalk   1-0

 

 

The town of Dundalk is closely tied to the mythological hero Cu Chulainn.

In story, he earned that name over his birthname after taking the place of a guardian dog he killed in self-defense.

  1. Viktoria Plzen vs. Sparta Prague – Czech First League

The Republic’s top league was getting close to a high enough UEFA ranking that they could’ve soon seen two clubs get Champions League invites.  Alas for them, they’re slipping from 13th to 17th in the rankings for 2019.

Still, this is a classic matchup for the country.  Sparta are undefeated, yet just #B in the table.  Viktoria Plzen are #3.  The latter’s goal differential looks a bit peakish, leading Noob to wonder if this league will be a two-horse race.  Already, Noob thinks they’re just an even match on their own pitch today.

Fun Fact:  Plzen’s best European finish was in 2013-14 when the qualified for Champions League and finished 3rd in the Group Stage.  After then getting dropped down to Europa League, they made the Round of 16.

RESULT:   Plzen   1-0

  1. Lens vs. Paris FC – France Ligue 2

Top two will be automatically Promoted to Ligue 1 at season’s end.  Next three will duke it out in a Playoff for one more to join them.  That’s where we find these two – #3 and #5.

Lens have made massive strides on defense since 2017-18 when they finished in the bottom half of the league.  Paris look about like they did last year, statistically anyway.  If that holds, they’ll be good, but not enough so to stay in the Promotion chase.

RESULT:   0-0

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Lens fans will raise their scarves and sing sang et or – “blood and gold” – after the club colors.

  1. NEC Nijmegen vs. Go Ahead Eagles – Netherlands Eerste Divisie

The Netherland’s top league is poised to nearly crack the top ten in Europe.  This is the Dutch second division.

NEC finished 3rd in the regular season last year before losing in a Promotion Playoff.  They’re defense is really suspect this season though.  And #1 GHE may be the club that can expose them.  Top-notch goal-scoring.

Fun Fact:  NEC was founded by its towns workers, lowest socioeconomic class.  This was very rare, as Dutch football was a very elitist sport at the turn of the 20th C.

RESULT:   1-1

  1. BW Linz vs. FC Leifering – Austria 2. Liga

Teams here are vying to move up to the Austrian Bundesliga, rated the #11 league in UEFA.   Only the top one gets to make that move though.

Linz is #1 and one of just two realistic-looking candidates.  Leifering are #3, but haven’t yet shown the firepower probably necessary to vie for the league title.

RESULT:   BWL   2-1

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The “Linzer torte” was thought for a long time to be the oldest recipe cake in the world.

  1. Sektzia Nes Tziona vs. Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem – Israel  Liga Leumit

Israel’s Premier is on the decline, will be down several notches to #25 next year.  But hey, that’s still above average!  SNT are #3, HKJ #B.

All the clubs in the top 2/3 of the league appear to play about the same defensively.  These two are among three that can score at a fair clip on top of that.

The top two finishers will get Promoted to Premier.  Before that happens, the going will get tougher for clubs like these, as the league divided into Championship and Relegation subdivisions.

Fun Fact:   The town of Ness Ziona was first known as “Wadi Channin”.

RESULT:    HJK   1-3

  1. Al-Wehdat vs. Al-Faisaly – Jordan Premier

At last, we head into Noob-uncharted waters!   Jordan’s top league – which you might just see as “The Jordan League” elsewhere soemtimes– is ranked 16th in Asia.  That’s about the 1/3 mark.  Just the winner will get into this federation’s Champions League.

Wehdat are the defending league champions.  No one could keep up with them on offense last year.   Or on defense.  But the difference was greater with the former.  Faisaly finished 3rd.  on the strength of their defense.

RESULT:   0-0

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Also known as Amman Refugee Camp, Al-Wehdat is a Palestinian refugee area.